Wooden Spoon Freezery’s craft ice-cream named Supreme Champion at 2019 Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards

Wellington’s Wooden Spoon Freezery is the Supreme Winner of the 2019 Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards.

The artisan ice-cream company has taken the top honours in the third annual awards for their Blackcurrant Crunch ice-cream and they also scooped the Dairy Category Award.

NZ Life & Leisure proudly supports the annual Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards, which celebrate the New Zealanders that create or harvest high-value high-quality produce and products.

With 186 product entries, from around the country the judges were spoilt for choice.

The ice-cream makers at Wooden Spoon Freezery are proof that business and pleasure can be mixed.

Read more about their Supreme Award-winning Blackcurrant Crunch Ice-Cream below:

Words: Lucy Corry

With a busy, award-winning craft ice-cream business to run and small children underfoot, Sharon Galeon and Midori Willoughby of Wooden Spoon Freezery have a lot on their plate.

But when a group of Otago Girls High School students asked if they could help create a new flavour as part of a Young Enterprise Scheme project, the pair couldn’t say no. “We couldn’t help ourselves,” Sharon says. “There were so many reasons to say yes, and helping young women get into business seemed like a great fit for us.”

READ MORE: Ice-cream makers behind Wellington’s Wooden Spoon Freezery get playful with hand-crafted flavour

After doing market research, the students settled on a caramelized white chocolate and raspberry ice-cream — a flavour that fitted in nicely with the rest of Wooden Spoon’s innovative repertoire.

Sharon and Midori started experimenting, then Tony and Afsaneh Howey of Viberi Blackcurrants got in touch (see NZ Life & Leisure, November/December 2018).

“They asked if we were interested in collaborating, and so we asked the girls what they thought. They were happy, so we went ahead. It was all pretty serendipitous.”

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The resulting product — Blackcurrant Crunch ice-cream was named Supreme Champion of the Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards for 2019. The pretty purple ice-cream also scooped up the Dairy category award.

Judges loved the naturally fruity flavour and praised the ice-cream’s creamy mouthfeel and “delicious crunchy texture”.

“It’s validating,” Sharon says. “We work so hard, but we don’t see what happens when the product leaves our hands and goes into the outside world. The award reinforces that we must be doing something right.”

Ice-cream fans — and followers of the awards — will be no stranger to Wooden Spoon’s work. Sharon and Midori, both originally from the United States, share a love for quirky and unusual flavours. Blackcurrant Crunch, which emerged as a limited release in late 2018, joins a lineup that includes eight dairy ice-cream flavours, three ice-cream sandwiches and three non-dairy options.

Sharon and Midori also produce limited-edition flavours for pop-ups in Wellington. In March they marked St Patrick’s Day with Luck of the Irish — mint chocolate ice-cream with dark chocolate peppermint crème bites. They also created Taste the Rainbow — with a rainbow assortment of flavour bursts — for the Wellington Pride Festival.

Wooden Spoon Freezery products also shone at last year’s Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards — Chocolate-Covered Banana picked up a silver medal, while Ca Phe Da (a coffee ice-cream inspired by Vietnamese coffee) received a gold.

Sharon says the pair try “not to be emotional” about their flavours, but admits she has a soft spot for Blackcurrant Crunch. “I keep coming back to this one. I love it to death. I really love a fruit-chocolate combination, so this one ticks all the boxes for me.”

What makes its success even sweeter for all concerned is that a portion of the proceeds from its sales will go to food-rescue charity KiwiHarvest. “We think giving back to the community is a responsibility of business.”

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Wooden Spoon ice-cream is sold throughout the country. For more on Sharon and Midori see the story from NZ Life & Leisure, March/April 2019.

The other category champions are:

Water: East Rock, Tarakihi, Gisborne

Earth: Chia Sisters, Bottled By The Sun: Nelson apple and boysenberry juice, Nelson

Paddock: Provenance Meat, Provenance Lamb, Gore

Special Award Spirit of New Zealand: Whitestone Cheese, Ferry Road Halloumi, Oamuru

Supreme Champion is chosen from each of the four category champions – Dairy, Earth, Paddock and Water. In addition to each category champion, gold and silver medals are awarded for outstanding products.

A special award, the NZ Life & Leisure Spirit of New Zealand Award, recognizes an entrant with an outstanding story across a broad set of principles including community involvement, environmental consciousness and product quality. This year’s winner, Whitestone Cheese, is a deserving recipient on many fronts.


Outstanding Sustainability Award: Roebuck Farm, Leaves + Shoots, New Plymouth

FMCG Outstanding New Product: Harraways, HARR-OS Oat Bites Indian Spice, Dunedin

Label & Litho Outstanding Packaging: Barker’s of Geraldine, Fruit for Cheese Range, Geraldine

Fresh.co.nz Outstanding Drink: Chia Sisters, Bottled by the Sun — Nelson apple and boysenberry juice, Nelson (also earth category winner)

Outstanding Free-From Products: Thoroughbread Foods, Paleo Gold and Paleo Fruit Loaf, Levin

Standing Start Up Business: Pastrami & Rye

Find the the full list of all gold and silver medalists here.

Kate Coughlan, editor of NZ Life & Leisure.

“The Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards, now in their third year, are a highlight of the NZ Life & Leisure calendar,” writes NZ Life & Leisure editor, Kate Coughlan.

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“We proudly support the efforts of not only the producers themselves but also Kathie Bartley and Nicola McConnell of Marvellous Marketing, who manage the awards and bring support and recognition to the producers of the country’s most delicious food and drinks.

“We have also gone beyond just being the sponsor of these awards and opened an online NZ Life & Leisure Farmers’ Market featuring an array of these award-winning products. I love having these delicious goods gathered in one place where I can browse at ease and shop from the comfort of my chair.

“We salute all the medalists. Support them — they deserve it.”


Head judge Lauraine Jacobs oversaw the judging of 180-plus products by an expert panel including NZ Life & Leisure Taste editor Lucy Corry (below), chefs, specialty-food retailers and food writers.

“Seeing the innovative approach food producers take with wonderful ingredients grown and harvested in New Zealand is rewarding.

“This year, the Dairy category was strong, a tribute to the country’s hardworking dairy farmers who produce high-quality cow, sheep, goat and buffalo milk. The Free From category, introduced to recognize products created for an increasing variety of dietary requirements, uncovered some outstanding produce.

“Judges also noted the quality of pre-prepared meals. Gold medal winners deserve the Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards they have earned, and consumers are advised to seek out delicious and exciting foods bearing the medal sticker as a mark of quality — look out for it on a range of food and drink products.”

Lucy Corry at the judging day


Ice-cream makers behind Wellington’s Wooden Spoon Freezery get playful with hand-crafted flavour

2019 Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards Medal Winners Revealed

From forbidden fruit to superfood: South Canterbury couple give blackcurrants a makeover

NZ Life and Leisure This article first appeared in NZ Life & Leisure Magazine.
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